3 minute read
French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo/AP
A French presidential election is always important, but the timing makes Emmanuel Macron’s bid for a second term something that matters far beyond the country’s borders.
Until recently, the French president seemed to be
sail comfortably to an easy win.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, uncertainty over Europe’s future security and energy needs, economic sanctions, commodity and fuel price inflation have blurred the picture. ‘screen.
Recent polls have shown a tighter race between the centrist and his far-right anti-immigration challenger Marine Le Pen.
In the end, Macron’s margin was better than expected.
In the first round on Monday, Macron won with 27.84% of the vote against 23.15% for Le Pen. Only the far left Jean-Luc Mélenchon came close with 21.95%. He told his supporters in his concession speech: “You shouldn’t vote for Madame Le Pen”. The overall participation rate was 74%.
Macron and Le Pen will face each other in the second round of elections on April 25 NZT. Macron beat Le Pen to win the presidency with 66% of the vote in 2017.
Macron is the leader in Western Europe with Germany’s recent change of chancellor and Britain’s exit from the European Union.
France is now the EU’s only nuclear power and the bloc’s second largest economy. It has a UN Security Council veto and, from New Zealand’s perspective, is a South Pacific neighbor with territory there.
While Macron focused on trying to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his army, Le Pen focused on cost-of-living issues. Australia’s prime minister will test the waters of these trying times with an election on May 21.
A crucial factor is that Macron was the only leading candidate in the election to support a major role for NATO and has long advocated for greater defense cooperation within the EU.
After the upheaval of the pandemic over the past two years, the war in Ukraine is now upsetting security, politics and the economy in Europe.
NATO has been resurrected and other countries could join, defense budgets are increased. Poland’s importance was highlighted as Ukraine’s neighbor and entry point for arms, bordering Russia and being the main host for millions of war refugees.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced over the weekend that Ukraine would be able to begin its process of joining the European Union within weeks.
France has a key role to play in shaping these developments and those to come.
France’s defense spending has increased by 7 billion euros under Macron. If Russia were to withdraw from Ukraine soon, Macron would likely seek to maintain European unity on defense. It would seem likely that the EU would help Ukraine rebuild as Western weapons continued to flow into kyiv.
Macron’s focus on Ukraine rather than domestic concerns may have discouraged some voters. But in the past supporters of other parties have registered their personal preference in the first round and then voted tactically to exclude the far right.
The two-round system still gives voters the chance to think again when the options are clear.
- Batley and Spen by-election result: Labor victory should worry Boris Johnson
- A game changer in the looming election season in Japan? – Analysis – Eurasia Review
- Conway resigns as mayor of Voorheesville, Straut named successor
- Boston VNA health professionals overwhelmingly vote to allow strike – Winthrop transcript